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McClaren leaves door ajar for Becks

"I will never say never. I'll continue to monitor him at Madrid," said manager. Beckham factfile | No hard feelings: Becks

india Updated: Aug 18, 2006 19:47 IST

England manager Steve McClaren insisted on Sunday that David Beckham could still play his way back on to the international stage.

Beckham's England career appeared to have reached its journey's end after the Real Madrid midfielder was left out of McClaren's squad to face Greece in a friendly on Wednesday.

But McClaren, who took over the England helm from Sven-Goran Eriksson, told BBC Radio Fiver Live: "It's not the England manager's decision to end anyone's international career.

"While David says he has the passion to play for England, I have to respect that and I will monitor the situation in Madrid. I will never say never."

McClaren denied that dropping the 31-year-old had been the hardest decision he'd ever had to make.

"It would have been hard if I didn't have the relationship I've got with him and if I didn't have the respect I have for him.

"It was a big decision but one I felt I had to make for the future."

McClaren had encouraging words for Theo Walcott, the 17-year-old untried Arsenal striker who was surprisingly selected by Eriksson as part of his England World Cup squad.

"Theo Walcott is a very good player, he has a bright future and a future playing for England.

"But what he needs now is that experience he needs to play regularly at this level.

"We will give him that opportunity at under-21 level and, hopefully, he will break through and we will see him at senior level again."

McClaren appointed Cheslea's John Terry to replace Beckham as captain but he suggested that role one day could be handed to Wayne Rooney.

"He is a fantastic character. He is still very young but he wants to be the best player in the world and, ultimately, I know he will want to be captain of England.

"That is a possibility."

First Published: Aug 13, 2006 20:38 IST